The Trojan Tea Shop
The Accidental Restaurateur, Ex-Professor Kim Bach in the garden at Verdigris
“I inherited a tea shop in Park City, Utah from my mother,” says Kim Bach. Actually, this assertion is not entirely accurate. To begin, Bach’s mother, Bonnie Deffebach, now 85, is still very much in the picture, so not technically in a position to “leave” anything to anyone. Moreover, once the elder decided to retire from the combination teashop/art gallery business, she did not so much “leave” it to her daughter, as pack it up and ship it to her—cabinetry, apothecary jars, teas, the whole shebang. Unwieldy? No question. Unwelcome? Not entirely.
Bach, a painter and professor of film theory at Long Island University, was, at the time, living in New York City and spending weekends at her place in Hillsdale. For some time, she’d been toying with the idea of moving to the country full-time. So, with the teashop-in-storage in mind, she began poking around Hudson. A carriage house under renovation on 3rd just south of Warren caught her eye. “I watched as it was being worked on, thinking it would be such a nice building for a teashop and art gallery,” she recalls. Friends with businesses in Hudson warned her of the perils of being even half-a-block off the beaten track. She waffled. That’s when her mother swept into town, saw the building, liked it, bought it, looked around, and bought a couple more.
Teashop in a crate: just add water? Not quite. Bach got the big counter at Hudson Armory.
For the first couple of years, all that was served at Verdegris Tea was topnotch tea, lavender lemonade (the recipe for which Bach credits Teany, a teashop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side), scones, madeleines and lemon cakes by Sarah Lipsky, a renowned freelance baker who supplies a number of Columbia County restaurants. There was always an art exhibition on the gallery-room walls. The tea-drinking public, undaunted by the ostensible inconvenience of the location, beat a path to its door. Tea drinkers, it would seem, value serenity: The herb garden with tables out front, the good music playing softly inside, the light and airy gallery room, all seemed to please them, but they wanted more. Eventually their earthbound appetites put the squeeze on art. “People wanted to be able to sit,” Bach says. “We had this big gallery room, so we brought some tables in.”
Gradually, it dawned on Bach and her crew that lunch might be a welcome addition, but, lacking a chef, they couldn’t see how to pull it off. “Then one day Regina came through the door,” says Bach, still amazed at her good fortune. Regina Simmons, a CIA graduate who had worked at Central Market in Germantown, makes perfectly pleasant salads, quiches, and soups. But it is her apple pies, cookies, savory biscuits, and biscotti that are remarkable: One lemon-lime pistachio biscotti with coconut topping packs as much punch as an entire case full of anybody else’s sweets.
“We do all the desserts for the Metropolitan Opera live feed at TSL,” says the accidental restaurateur, ex-Professor Bach, with evident pride. “And we are famous for our weddings cakes.”
13 S. 3rd Street, Hudson; 518.828.3139
Wednesday - Friday & Monday 11 - 6
Saturday & Sunday 8 - 6